Team Profile: Switzerland

It wasn't pretty, but Switzerland managed to stamp its passport for South Africa, securing a World Cup berth on the final day of the qualifiers with a 0-0 draw at home against Israel.


  • Coach: Ottmar Hitzfeld
  • Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg/Germany), Johnny Leoni (Zurich), Marco Wolfli (Young Boys)
  • Defenders: Mario Eggimann (Lichtsteiner (Lazio/Italy), Philippe Senderos  Hannover/Germany), Stephane Grichting (Auxerre/France), Stephan (Arsenal/England), Ludovic Magnin (FC Zurich), Steve Von Bergen (Hertha Berlin/Germany), Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria/Italy)
  • Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen/Germany), Valon Behrami (West Ham/England), Gelson Fernandes (St Etienne/France), Benjamin Huggel (Basle), Gokhan Inler (Udinese/Italy), Marco Padalino (Sampdoria/Italy), Pirmin Schwegler (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany), Xherdan Shaqiri (Basle)
  • Forwards: Eren Derdiyok (Bayer Leverkusen/Germany), Alexander Frei (Basle), Blaise Nkufo (FC Twente/Netherlands), Albert Bunjaku (FC Nuremberg/Germany), Hakan Yakin (Lucerne)


Style of play: Coach Omar Hitzfeld uses an attacking 4-4-2 formation but also preaches tactical discipline and organization. The duo of Gokhan Inler and Gelson Fernandes hold things down in centre of the midfield, allowing Tranquillo Barnetta and Valon Behrami to push forward to lend support to the two strikers, Alexander Frei, Blaise Nkufo. The two outside fullbacks, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ludovic Magnin, will try to make overlapping runs down the flanks, giving the attack more width.

1st round matches:

  • June 16 vs. Spain in Durban
  • June 21 vs. Chile in Port Elizabeth
  • June 25 vs. Honduras in Bloemfontein

Projected starting lineup (4-4-2): (GK) Diego Benaglio - (D) Stephan Lichtsteiner, Philippe Senderos, Stephane Grichting, Ludovic Magnin - (M) Tranquillo Barnetta, Gokhan Inler, Valon Behrami, Gelson Fernandes - (F) Alexander Frei, Blaise Nkufo


  • Coaching: Omar Hitzfeld is an experienced tactician with a proven track record of success - the German coach won Champions league titles while in charge of Borussia Dortmund (1997) and Bayern Munich (2001). The Swiss are in good hands with Hitzfeld.
  • Team unity: Thanks in large part to Hitzfeld, the harmonious Swiss locker room is tension free. There are no egos, no clashes of opinion - just a collection of honest players who work in unison when they take to the field.
  • No pressure: If this were the Winter Olympics, Swiss skiers would be dealing with unbearable media scrutiny as they attempted to win gold. Swiss soccer players are not under the media microscope like winter athletes, which means they can concentrate of playing the game free of pressure.


  • Key Injuries: Striker Alexander Frei, country's all-time leading scorer, was sidelined for more than two months with a broken arm and only returned to action in early May, leading to questions about potential rustiness. Veteran defender Christoph Spycher was forced to pull out of the squad due to a knee injury.
  • No game-breakers: The Swiss have several quality midfielders, but nobody who you could call a game-breaker - a player the quality of Spain's Andres Iniesta, or England's Frank Lampard, who can change the outcome of a game in an instant with a brilliant and inspirational play.
  • Poor qualifying campaign: Yes, the Swiss won their qualifying group, but they were far from convincing, dropping points to such lightweights as Israel and Latvia and, shockingly, losing to Luxembourg at home. It was hardly the ideal preparation for the World Cup.

Players to watch:

  • Tranquillo Barnetta - Attacking midfielder or winger who covers a lot of ground with long, thoroughbred strides and has a penchant for striking a shot while running with the ball at his feet.
  • Alexander Frei - Although not fast or physically strong, the veteran forward is an energetic, athletic striker who boasts an accurate shot, makes dangerous runs off the ball, and is equally adept at scoring with either foot.
  • Blaise Nkufo - Congo-born striker who finished tied with Frei as Switzerland's top scorer in the qualifiers with five goals.

Key injuries/squad omissions: Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld surprised a lot of people when he selected teenage midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri - the 18-year-old made his club debut for FC Basel last summer and has limited international experience. Another surprise pick was defender Philippe Senderos who is coming off a pretty sub-standard season in the English Premier League. Defender Christoph Spycher was originally named to the name but was then replaced by Ludovic Magnin, after failing to recover from an injury to his left knee. Injured forward Marco Streller (thigh muscle ) was replaced by Albert Bunjaku. Other notable omissions include winger Johan Vonlanthen, midfielder Almen Abdi, and defenders Johan Djourou and Philipp Degen. Swiss striker Alexander Frei is coming off an arm injury that sidelined him for 10 weeks.

Prognosis: First-round exit. Switzerland over-achieved four years ago by topping a group that included eventual finalists France to advance to the second round. Don't expect a repeat performance this time. The Swiss were far from impressive in the qualifiers, labouring through what was an easy group before eventually booking their trip to South Africa. Veteran striker Alexander Frei is past his due date and it's hard to imagine that Blaise Nkufo will be able to pick up the scoring slack.


  • Current FIFA ranking: #26
  • Qualification route: Switzerland finished in first place (21 points) in Europe's Group 2 ahead of Greece (20 points).
  • Key to qualification: Good luck and fortune. The Swiss had a disastrous start (they were held to a 1-1 draw by Israel in their first game and then lost 2-1 at home to Luxembourg) but eventually squeaked through as group winners ahead of favourites Greece, who flattered to deceive.
  • Crucial result: A 3-0 win on the road over Luxembourg (Oct. 10, 2009) gave Switzerland a comfortable three-point cushion over Greece going into it last game, which it tied Israel 0-0, thus clinching a World Cup berth.
  • Qualifying record: 10 games played, 6 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss
  • Goals for: 18
  • Goals against: 8
  • Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Alexander Frei and Blaise N'Kufo (5)

Qualifying results: (home team listed first)

  • Sept. 6, 2008 - Israel 2, Switzerland 2
  • Sept. 10, 2008 - Switzerland 1, Luxembourg 2
  • Oct. 11, 2008 - Switzerland 2, Latvia 1
  • Oct. 15, 2008 - Greece 1, Switzerland 2
  • March 28, 2009 - Moldova 0, Switzerland 2
  • April 1, 2009 - Switzerland 2, Moldova 0
  • Sept. 5, 2009 - Switzerland 2, Greece 0
  • Sept. 9, 2009 - Latvia 2, Switzerland 2
  • Oct. 10, 2009 - Luxembourg 0, Switzerland 3
  • Oct. 14, 2009 - Switzerland 0, Israel 0


  • Number of World Cup appearances: 8
  • All-time record: 26 games played, 8 wins, 5 draws, 13 losses
  • Goals for: 37
  • Goals against: 51
  • Biggest victory: 4-1 vs. Italy in 1954, 4-1 vs. Romania in 1994
  • Biggest defeat: 5-0 vs. West Germany in 1966
  • Overall top scorer: Josef Hugi (6 goals)
  • Most appearances: Charles Antenen (8 matches)
  • Hosted the World Cup: 1954

World Cup track record

  • 1930 - Did not enter
  • 1934 - Quarter-finals
  • 1938 - Quarter-finals
  • 1950 - First Round
  • 1954 - Quarter-finals
  • 1958 - Did not qualify
  • 1962 - First Round
  • 1966 - First Round
  • 1970 to 1990 - Did not qualify
  • 1994 - Second Round
  • 1998 - Did not qualify
  • 2002 - Did not qualify
  • 2006 - Second Round



  • FIFA member since: 1904
  • Team nickname: Schweizer Nati
  • All-time caps leaders: Heinz Hermann (117)
  • All-time leading scorer: Alexander Frei (40 goals)

Notable Achievements

  • Under-17 World Champions: 2009
  • Under-17 European Champions: 2002
  • Olympic Silver Medal: 1924

Legendary Players

  • Heinz Hermann: Switzerland's all-time caps leader with 117 appearances from 1978-91. The midfielder scored 15 times for his country in international competition and was a star player in the 1980s in the Swiss first division, winning league MVP honours from 1984-88.
  • Kubilay Turkyilmaz: Turkyilmaz was a talented striker (34 goals in 62 games from 1988-2001 for his country) who was probably best known for scoring the tying goal in a 1-1 draw with England in the opening match of Euro '96 at London's Wembley Stadium.